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Social Media 101

by Grace Bonney

This summer I’ve been teaching my own version of summer school classes at Makeshift Society in Brooklyn and San Francisco. The topic I felt most passionate to discuss first was SOCIAL MEDIA and in every class I found myself more and more excited to get into the nitty gritty details of what it means to craft a successful- and authentic- social media presence for any brand, company or personality.

For better or worse, social media has become the primary way most people find and consume information. Whether they’re getting updates on political situations or looking at more light-hearted updates related to the cultural news that interests them, people are no longer reading online home pages the way they used to. Rather than bemoaning the loss of that more centralized method of communication, the homepage, I think our time is better spend understanding and embracing those changes and learning how to make them work for us, both personally and professionally.

So this week I turned my radio show into a one-stop-shop podcast that will help anyone listening get started with expressing themselves- and their work- through social media. If you’ve got 15 minutes, you’ve got all the time you need to learn all the basics of social media. From finding your voice and defining your style to discovering the best tools to track engagement and find your audience online, I hope you’ll tune in and join me in the social media fun…xo, grace

*I will be teaching online course this fall, so if you’re interested in signing up for a longer version of this talk, stay tuned for details in September!


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  • Grace: I love the before and after posts on your site and all things decorating! It’s an added bonus to read about blogging and social media. Thanks for your great posts.


  • Grace,

    A lot of thought and experience went into your Heritage Radio presentation. It was time well spent to listen to it and a good learning experience. I have social media presence but I have major concerns about what I post and end up posting benign visuals that are less about my work and more about fodder for social media sites. Perhaps you can offer your opinion.

    I am a professional commercial and fine art photographer in business since 1977. My concerns stem from reading the Terms of Service and other legal notices on social media sites. Many sites notices state that, once posted, they own copyright and any use rights to images posted on their services. They also have the right to use and call their own any and all images posted. Some say these rights end after the images are removed but some hold rights as long as they please. This means they could use my work without attribution, without compensation and without my permission, at any time and for any purpose on-line, in print or other media as they see fit. I fully understand that I can watermark my images but that doesn’t work because, not only does it destroy the viewer’s experience it can easily be removed with increasingly sophisticated digital editing software.

    I understand that Terms of Service and legal statements were not in the scope of your discussion but I for one am not willing to relinquish my rights to work on which I make my living. I know you cannot offer legal advice and I am not looking for that. I would just like to tap your experience and hear your thoughts on this subject.

    Sorry for the long post but it does address some real problems for visual professionals where their livelihood and success hinges on their images.

    ~ Trish

    • Trish

      The majority of social media platforms do claim a non-exclusive right to use your images in promotions related to their services, ie: in an ad for Instagram, etc. But they do not claim ownership or any exclusivity.

      I understand that putting anything on the internet can be difficult and scary, as theft and copying happens often. But those incidences happen outside of social media as well. Any time you post an image anywhere on the internet, including your own website, people are able to find it, copy it or paste it elsewhere. That is part of the risk of the internet. So I completely understand why you or anyone else wouldn’t want to take part in those social media communities.

      That said, there is obviously a huge reward in taking part in social media as well. Exposure, increased opportunities, press, expanded client/customer base- all of these reasons outlined in my show make it far worth the risk, in my opinion. For me, I would rather risk Instagram using one of my images in their ad campaign without compensation (which, out of 200 Million users is a small chance) than risk not getting the sort of exposure and connection that comes from being a part of that community.

      Facebook has, by far, the most far-reaching user terms (though they still do not claim ownership or exclusive rights) because they require ALL instances of your image to be deleted for it to be considered outside of their realm of licensing for advertising purposes (none of these groups claim the right to sell your images for anything outside of their own promotional work for that social media outlet). That said, YOU don’t have to be on Facebook for your images to show up there. That is the tricky reality I was referencing above. If you put a single image online, even on your own site or a shop site like Etsy, anyone can grab it and post it to Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. The best version of that scenario is that they credit you and you get attention from it, but it also means they’re signing up your photo for those terms.

      So at the end of the day, I think most people’s photos will end up on social media whether they’d like them to or not. And it makes much more sense to post them yourself and make the attribution and credit clear and control (as much as possible) how they’re viewed and credited. I know those TOCs sound scary, but I think the reward FAR exceeds the end result of the risk.


  • Grace,

    Thank you for your informed response. Your comments refresh my outlook and helped to allay my concerns about using social media for promotion.

    I am aware that images that I own can be posted by others without me knowing and that they fall to the very same copyright peril that they would if I posted them myself.

    As a case-in-point Pinterest seems to be the site that demands the most rights for the longest time. My colleagues informed me that this is such a problem in the community of creative professionals that Pinterest offers a line of HTML script one can apply to their website to prevent images from being linked on Pinterest without the author’s knowledge. In the spirit of sharing, the line is a meta tag and is:

    This was published by Pinterest itself to help prevent unwanted/unauthorized posting of images. If a user tries to link a site’s images to Pinterest from a site that applies this meta tag, the user gets a small message that says the site owner does not allow posting/pinning.

    Again, thanks for answering my questions. Design*Sponge is my go to place for information and inspiration.

    ~ Trish

  • hello, my name is cecilia
    i live in lima, peru
    thanks for this interesting info, the medias is the future now.
    i want to know about your course
    greetings, to all of you and thanks for such a beautiful site, full of ideas